SC liquor ban on highways set to hit Bengaluru’s pubs, bars and restaurants
Karnataka started issuing notices to establishments deemed within 500 metres of MG Road and Old Madras Road asking them to close the joints by July 1.india Updated: Jun 25, 2017 06:57 IST
The Supreme Court’s order banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways is set to affect Bengaluru’s famous watering holes, as it has now emerged that the arterial MG Road and some other roads are part of national highways passing through the city.
On Friday, the state’s excise department started issuing notices to establishments deemed within 500 metres of MG Road and Old Madras Road asking them to close the joints by July 1. This has earned the ire of restaurant and pub owners in the central business district areas as about 140 such establishments are set to be affected near MG Road alone.
“We have received a notice asking us to stop serving alcohol,” said Srinivas Gowda, manager of Pecos, which has long been one of Bengaluru’s iconic pubs. “This establishment has been here for about 29 years now and we are famous as a place to enjoy beer... How can we suddenly change to being an eatery,” Gowda said.
In fact, Pecos had become so successful that the owners opened two other joints nearby and another joint in Indiranagar, which too has been deemed to be close to a national highway.
Owners of liquor stores, bars and pubs feel let down especially because the state reclassified stretches of state highways passing through urban local bodies as urban roads. However, the Public Works Department’s letter to the central government asking for a similar reclassification of stretches passing through cities has not found a response.
The SC in its order specifically went into the question of stretches passing through cities and towns. The prohibition would “extend to and include stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of a municipal corporation, city, town or local authority.”
However, the Karnataka Hotels Association is not impressed . “This order was not issued recently. For them to give us just a week’s notice is completely unjust,” said Madhukar Shetty, president of the association. Residents of the city, too, feel the order is very harsh. “These pubs have been an intrinsic part of Bengaluru’s culture...” said Sandeep Jayaram, an advertising professional.